Download Arts of Living: Reinventing the Humanities for the by Kurt Spellmeyer PDF

By Kurt Spellmeyer

ISBN-10: 0791456471

ISBN-13: 9780791456477

ISBN-10: 1417500891

ISBN-13: 9781417500895

Argues that larger schooling must abandon the "culture wars" if it hopes to handle the most important crises of the century.

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Additional info for Arts of Living: Reinventing the Humanities for the Twenty-First Century

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Could it be that knowledge of the kind we most value now—the knowledge of specialists—has failed to make the people of our time either more intelligent or more free, more capable or more confident? Is it possible that our scholars and critics have undermined not only our political ideals but also our own sense of self-worth? For us now, the best answer to these questions may be found in the sweeping transformation of American life that took place at the turn of the nineteenth century, when the administered society—rule by the best and the brightest—arose from the ruins of an earlier, more democratic culture.

The pedant, the dogmatic thinker, is the person who confines himself to knowledge in a fixed and finished form, while carefully averting his eyes from the uncertain, which encircles us everywhere. Only after we have turned from the safety of our systems, paradigms, and formulas, does the process of questioning take on new life, which we may feel to be the life of the world itself. I will grant that the humanities are not the only area of knowledge to inspire and cultivate wonder, but the humanities make wonder possible in ways that may even surpass scientific inquiry, astonishing as science has become.

Although many of the writers engaged in the attempt to reconstruct democracy are now commonly remembered as “regionalists” or “ethnic” writers, these rubrics carry with them the disparaging connotations of provincialism and nostalgia. Instead, we might understand them all as social thinkers who astutely recognized that the best communities draw their strength from differences as well as agreements. The populists had a rival, however, and one that grew increasingly powerful with the advent of the Progressive movement—the culture of specialization.

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Arts of Living: Reinventing the Humanities for the Twenty-First Century by Kurt Spellmeyer


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